It was moments like these that reminded me exactly how fragile Sam was.

In the several seconds that my clumsy fingers had dropped the keys to my front door and I had bent down to retrieve them, Sam began to shake and whimper next to me, his frigid, stiff fingers increasing their grip on my hand. By the time I shoved the door open and we stumbled into the warmth, Sam's eyes were glassy and unfocused, and yet again the fastest, most reliable option was to get him in a hot bath. Seeing his tortured expression, however, I knew I couldn't do that to him again, so I raced to the downstairs bathroom, dragging Sam by the fingers, and turned the shower faucet to scalding hot.

"Grace," Sam whimpered, as I attempted to yank off his voluminous winter coat and the several layers he sported underneath at the same time. I shoved him into the shower as soon as I had stripped him of everything but his boxers, soaking my jeans and sweater in the process, and yanked the shower curtain around him.

"Sam, fight it. You cant leave me," I whispered, and as the hot water flowed, I could sense the grime, cold, and anxiety flowing down the drain as well.

I sat on the closed toilet and ran a trembling hand through my hair.

"Grace?" Sam said, and I looked up to find his sad, yellow eyes peering at me from behind the shower curtain.

"Come here," he added, and it took me a moment to realize that by "here" Sam meant the shower.

After a second of hesitation, I pulled my sweater up and over my head and kicked my jeans to the floor, leaving me in my bra, thin camisole, and panties. I eased back the shower curtain and stepped into the encompassing heat, while Sam's piercing eyes raked up and down my nearly exposed body. I took one step forward, the water splashing across my chest and torso, and Sam slid his now warm and inviting hands up my neck, gently tilted back my head, and kissed my under the stream of water.

"The only thing that keeps me from losing my control is you, Grace," he said, "the only thing," he repeated.

I kept my eyes locked with his as I ran my fingers through his dark, dripping hair while his fingers found their way to the hem of my clinging camisole, dragging it up over my chest and tossing it out of the shower. It fell with a slick thump on the tiled bathroom floor, and I was suddenly hyperaware that this was the first time Sam and I had been so close since the first night we made love.

"Tell me to stop Grace, because I don't know if I'll be able to if we go any further," he murmured as his long fingers raked through my now soaking hair.

"Don't stop," I countered, and with longing in his eyes Sam slid his fingers through my long strands and down my shoulder blades where they found the flimsy hooks of my light pink bra. I inwardly wished that I had been wearing the black, lacy one that I had picked up with Rachel last summer, but his hands on my skin were enough to leave my mind immune to any outside thoughts.

"Angel, stop me," he repeated, but my bra had already landed on the shower floor and I stared into his troubled eyes for a moment before taking one more step forward and wrapping my arms around his waist and pressing my face into the crook of his neck. The sensation of skin on skin and the musky, pine scent radiating off of his chest made my stomach twist with desire and if the water had not begun to run cold, I knew we wouldn't have made it to the bedroom.

He reached behind him and turned off the faucet, then reached behind my head with both hands, gathering my hair in his fists, and squeezed out the excess water before he stepped out of the shower and guided me down the hall.

We collapsed onto the bed and Sam gently pushed me into the pillows and leaned down to kiss me long and sweet while my body continued to heat up and beg for more. The ends of his dark hair leaked fat raindrops onto my chest and I could feel the slippery skin of his hard stomach graze my abdomen, sending shivers up my spine.

"Tell me you're sure," he demanded, and we stared into each other's eyes for a long moment before I propped myself up on my elbows and kissed his lips lightly "I love you, Sam," I replied, although I knew it wasn't an exact answer to his question. It seemed to be adequate though, because after a several more minutes of his lips on my neck, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband of my matching pink panties and dragged them down my thighs and over my ankles.

"Grace," he moaned, as I began to tug on his boxers, but any hesitation in his voice was rivaled with equal parts desire and need. Our bodies met in a blissfully heated second and when he lowered his head to my shoulder, kissing my heated skin, and our ragged breathing began to slow, I heard him whisper, barely audible, "Don't let me change back, Grace. I need to be with you." He rolled onto his back, and I rested my face against his still damp chest and inhaled his delicious scent.

His strong and gentle arms pulled me closer to his body and I felt the pull of sleep dragging me away from the moment and filling my heart with worry that he wouldn't be there when I woke up. Sam sensed my tension and turned slightly to face me, "Don't ever be afraid that I won't be here," he said, "wherever you are angel, that's where I'll be too."